MANILA – Vice President Jejomar Binay over the weekend said he has no problem with the Philippines holding joint ventures with the "moneyed" China in the disputed West Philippine Sea, in what could be a glimpse of his China policy in case he gets elected as president in 2016.
In a radio interview last Sunday, Binay said the country's dispute with China over the West Philippine Sea is unlikely to be resolved soon, but he said this does not mean that the Philippines cannot pursue improved trade relations with Asia's largest economy.
''Nakakalungkot pero tanggapin po natin na hindi naman po matatatpos ‘yan kaagad. Siguro, ilang taon na tayong namamatay e hindi pa rin nareresolba ‘yan," he said.
Binay said the Philippines must take advantage of the capital that the wealthy Asian nation can provide its Southeast Asian neighbor. He said this can be demonstrated by the Philippines agreeing to hold joint ventures with China in the contested waters.
''May pera po ang China, kailangan po natin ng capital. Let us develop those natural resources do’n sa area na ‘yon. ‘Yan ay joint-venture. Mapabuti po sana natin ang trade relations natin sa China na hindi ito maapektuhan dahil do’n sa problema natin sa Spratlys,'' he said.
While's Binay's position that the sea dispute must not affect the other aspects of Philippine-China relations reflects the Aquino administration's policy, his preference to conduct joint explorations with China, to some extent, is a departure from the policy being adopted by the current administration.
Speaking to ANC's Headstart on Wednesday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said the Aquino administration does not want to conduct joint ventures with China because the latter wants to play by its own rules.
Del Rosario said while the Philippines is open to conducting joint oil explorations with China in the disputed waters, ''we should do this in accordance with the requirements of the constitution. In other words, it must be in accordance with the Philippines law. And China as of now does not appear to be in accordance with that. They feel that it should be their laws that should apply."
President Benigno Aquino III has been critical of Beijing, even saying in an interview with Agence France-Presse that the world should fear the Asian giant's actions.
The DFA also earlier slammed China for its reclamation works in West Philippine Sea, saying it destroys the environment and costs coastal nations around it hundreds of millions of dollars yearly.
In a historic move, the Philippines under Aquino also filed a complaint against China before a United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal, in an attempt to have China's vague nine-dash line claim in the West Philippine Sea declared illegal.
But for Binay, a favorable decision by the arbitral tribunal for Manila will have no value if Beijing, which possesses military and economic might, will just ignore it.
''Sabi ng China, kahit ano pong maging desisyon do’n sa Tribunal, hindi [nila] susundin,'' Binay said.
The Aquino administration has relied heavily on US support, especially on the diplomatic front, in gaining international sympathy for the Philippines.
Del Rosario yesterday said the US is looking at sending advanced air and naval equipment to the country amid the simmering West Philippine Sea dispute, even as the presence of US troops in the country remains a thorny issue in the former American colony.